Shemiza Rashid Interview

Here is the little one on one we had with Shemiza. This woman is extraordinary. She is a fully active mother, radio host, fashionista in her own right, social activist and teacher just to say the least. Needless to say, being a mother of 6 is already a mega job in our books. She will be hosting the Urban Muslim Woman’s show in London this June but in the mean time, here is a little something about her.

How did you get started as a radio presenter?

The founder of the station knew of my interfaith community art work via my organization the ‘creative Muslim network’ he was also aware that I was a teacher thus invited me to present a show of the newly launched Inspirefm originally known as Radio Ramadhan. I am assuming he thought I had a lot to say. I enjoy Islamic inspired creativity and campaigns that engage the community with positive social and environmental messages so I thought this could be a great opportunity to share my passion with a wider audience.

At first I was a little apprehensive as I wasn’t sure how receptive the audience would be to the format of arts based show, if my presenting style would work or if anyone would listen!  I kept it a secret from friends and family at first, just in case and I was even reluctant to give my name on air….  And then one day my children heard it as a repeat on the school drive home… My 4-year-old piped up “that lady sounds funny like mummy”. When their father told them it was me, my 2-year-old started crying the radio car has eaten mummy!! Yikes my secret is out, I thought to myself! The show originally called the ‘Arts and culture show, Masha’Allah, achieved a short list nomination for ‘community in the arts award in 2013. I then decided to re brand with a catchy title and call it ‘The Urban Kube’ (the Kube as in reference to the Khana Kaba and urban in reference to the city).

It’s awesome to hear positive feedback from the community but to get it from the wider community is fantastic because it’s helping break barriers and stereotypes. The show has encouraged a lot of its listeners to participate in national and local writing events, made them more aware of voluntarily opportunities and funding opportunities; one sister and her daughter even launched an Islamic inspired art club from tuning in. Others have spoken about igniting their interest in poetry and art and writing books. I’ve personally sponsored via the creative Muslim network  100s of books to engage wider reading in the community which I’m passionate about; as a 6th form teacher I find it distressing to see the number if young Muslims still not achieving the same level of literacy as their counterparts .
How long have you been presenting for? Was it an easy process or was there a lot to learn and master?

It will be three years this Ramdhan. As a working mum it is serious multitasking trying to produce and present the show, especially the preparation prior to a show at home. I spend a whole week searching for guests, contacting them interviewing them with the wonderful sound effects of the children in the background whilst making chapattis and interviewing guests prior the live show interview. Producing the show on the day of the live show I will be preparing it to last second lol. In the mad rush I sometimes forget that I haven’t got my headphones on or I’m speaking to myself because I’ve forgotten to press on air. Once I even  fell off my chair while I was live but with any glitch I always  try to remain a true professional even if I have walked in with odd shoes, my 6  children hanging off my ears  and my maxi back to front. However with practice the process becomes easier. But preparation is key; knowing the subject matter you wish to talk it’s always good to do your research. Having a passion for your subject matter also helps. Speaking to your guests prior to the interview finding out more about them makes a good interview.

What is your show about, how often and is it only talk or do you feature music as well?  

The show is a real celebration of Islamic inspired creativity. I have a wealth of awesome guests that are local national and global, ranging from authors, artist, poets charitable pioneers film directors academics; it’s an eclectic mix which features arts and events updates but I always try to celebrate the achievement of Sisters. The main purpose of ‘the urban kube’ is to showcase the positive impact and input Muslims are making and present examples of people who are successfully able to  balance faith , family life and work and also be creative in the process. I include quirky features, arts updates guest interviews and competitions. The show is an hour lives every Sunday 2 till 3 and is repeated Thursday @ 6pm U.K. time and also uploaded on mix cloud. If a Nasheed artist is being interviewed then I will include their track but generally it’s more interviews and feature based. My work is my passion and hobby. I teach 2 out of 7 days and the remaining time I work from home. Any free time I spend with the children. I make conscious effort if I go out that I’m able to attend civic and community events that the children can benefit from too.

With 6 children I’m sure things can often get overwhelming (or not lol) do you get help?  

With time I have been able to organize myself more but I have the support of my husband and in-laws who see the value and benefit of the show with the community. I now have utilized a lot of space under the sofas and rugs… and get the children to play spot the dirt… with the prize of a packet of baby wipes 🙂

You have two campaigns that you support, tell us more about them? What can people to do to help?

Subhan’Allah. I’m at present a campaign ambassador for ‘MADE in Europe; (Muslim agency for development education). One campaign is called the ‘Enough Food IF’ aims to lobby the government before the G8 summit about combating global hunger. 1 in 8 children across the globe is dying needlessly because of the unequal distribution of food. The lobbying of the government would make this a fixed agenda discussion. Another campaign is for maternal care and child morality awareness across Pakistan. For further information on the very inspiring and motivating campaigns ‘Mash‘Allah www.madeineurope.org.uk

So now that we know a little more about your work and what inspires it, tell us about Shemiza..

As a mother of 6 young children I felt it necessary to provide a faith-based platform that my children could be inspired by and aspire to. I also felt that I was blessed to come across and network with such inspirational individuals of the Muslim community nationally and globally that I needed locals to know about. I enjoy the creative Muslim Scene and I wanted to share my knowledge to the community of Luton. It also got very frustrating with the media representation of Muslims and the low morale amongst Muslim across the country. I felt I needed to highlight the very much missed positive side that the mainstream misses off the radar. I believe that we can only create change if we take ownership of our own stories specifically in the media. The benefits of community radio are that this makes it possible.

Where are you from, studies, etc?

I’m of British Kashmiri origin 4th generation. Grew up in Nottingham but have lived in Luton for 12 years I’m a post-graduate qualified teacher with a doctorate in education pending. Graduated In politics went into fashion then taught English, drama and expressive arts have now found my calling, using all my skills and expertise to network support, and engage others in the fields of Muslim arts and entertainment.

What do you do on your free time?

Free time is that a new invention? In the half an hour I’m spared a day after, household chores baby chores, taxi chores  I find a cupboard hide in it and guzzle an iced coffee. I’m also always researching new ideas;  can’t stop 🙂 I also run the creative Muslim network and Shining Ummah children’s performing poetry club.

What must you always have in your purse when you go out?

Baby wipes and I always end up with one baby sock or two in my purse!!

What is your “it” accessory or product at the moment?

My smile … It’s Sunnah… and a sense of humor … Much needed in the present climate. However, I do love costume vintage jewellery and accessories and maxi dresses.  It’s awesome that so much choice is available now in the high street for modest dressing my favorite key wardrobe items are blazers, maxi dress and brogue shoes.

Did we miss anything?

I would love to produce a cool Muslim lifestyle program on mainstream television.

I was Former fashion designer and stylist and will be teaching fashion and retail diploma next academic term a key feature I’m exploring is ethical and modest fashion and fashion with compassion I’m also looking forward to introducing Hayati to my students 🙂

I am Judge at The young Muslim writer’s awards 2013.
I will be hosting the urban Muslim woman’s show in London in June 2013.
I will now also be a regular voice on mainstream radio Insha’Allah.
Releasing a children’s CD of Muslim children’s poems with my award-winning children’s performing poetry club ‘Shining Ummah ‘. The children achieved an award for contribution to literary art in 2011 from Artsbeat in Luton; they helped fund raise £75, 000 by performing original poems to raise awareness of countries hit by natural disaster or conflict. Haiti, Gaza, Malawi, Pakistan…

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